What to Do during a Civil Dispute if You’re the Defendant

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Civil lawsuits are the most common type of cases dealt with every day. It usually involves two parties –either individual to individual or individual to business. Most civil cases tend to begin with a plaintiff complaint regarding an interaction with you that harmed them.

It’s normal to feel taken aback when you receive a summons and complaint filed by another person with allegations against you. Dealing with lawsuits can be stressful and overwhelming, but you can’t ignore the summons in the hopes that it just goes away because it won’t.

The responsible thing to do is be aware of the next steps you should take and how you’re going to deal with the complaint. Neglecting to respond to the summons can encourage the courts to favor the plaintiff and make a default judgment at your expense, just as if you lost the case.

So even if you think that you’re not guilty of anything, you must still respond to the summons and complaint before the deadline is over. You are innocent until proven guilty, which means that you have the right to defend yourself in or out of court. Here’s how you can deal with the case appropriately:

Contact a Lawyer

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The first thing you have to do after receiving the summons and complaint is to contact a lawyer. You might be enticed to deal with the matters yourself and approach the plaintiff to handle the matter directly, but doing so can cause more trouble later on. Instead, try to think about how you can resolve the case professionally.

Reading the documents thoroughly will allow you to contact the right kind of lawyer, which is why you must read everything, including the fine prints. After having done so, the next step will be to meet with your lawyer and discuss how you’re going to approach the case.

The most important part of working with a lawyer is that you’re honest towards one another. Doing so will give your lawyer the capacity to defend you against the plaintiff’s allegations, so make sure that you tell them everything that you know regarding the matter at hand.

Try to Settle Out of Court

The majority of civil lawsuits get settled before the trial dates arrive. This is because most lawyers recommend that both parties involved in the litigation try to settle out of court to save money and time. This can be achieved through alternative dispute resolutions, such as mediation and arbitration services.

In mediation, the parties involved can try to resolve their conflicts with the help of an expert. This means that you will discuss the allegations held against you with your plaintiff in the hopes of dealing with the matter outside of the court. If you can come to terms with your plaintiff, then the case can be dealt with immediately.

On the other hand, arbitration is the formal hearing process where the final decision about the case is created. This is usually done with an arbitrator who will assume the role of a hearing officer who can resolve the dispute without it needing to come to a trial.

Make Your Case and Hope You Win

Sadly, not all lawsuits can be settled out of court. If you and your plaintiff cannot agree on the settlement terms in mediation, then the chances of your case going to court becomes higher. This means that you will have to fight for your innocence or workable negotiations until the end.

When your case goes to trial, you should be prepared to face the subsequent expenses. A trial will require expert witnesses, extensive depositions, attorney fees, as well as travel expenses, and it will take up a lot of your time. These expenditures are what you could have significantly reduced through mediation.

On the day of your trial, there’s not much that you can do except trust in your lawyer. After all, they are equipped with the knowledge and experience to save you from dampening your permanent records. So believe that your lawyer can win your case and get you favorable outcomes.

The experience of dealing with a civil lawsuit can be unnerving, especially if it’s your first time. You never think that you’re going to be in that situation until you are, and at that point, it can be too late to do anything about it. It’s always better to be prepared than to be clueless, so do yourself a favor and be educated on basic litigation.